BOSTON (AP) — Kyrie Irving is playing coy about the possibility of reuniting with his former Cleveland Cavaliers teammate LeBron James next season in Boston.
The Celtics guard on Tuesday deferred when asked about the prospect of the team pursuing James this summer. The 33-year-old James has a player option to remain in Cleveland next season but could opt for free agency.
“In this business, I’ve kind of experienced it all and I’ve seen a lot, so we’ll see what management decides,” Irving said when asked if he would be open to playing alongside James again.
Irving was drafted No. 1 overall by the Cavaliers in 2011 and played three seasons with James, from 2014-17. The duo made three straight trips to the NBA Finals, winning a championship in 2016.
“Obviously, it’s a business at the end of the day,” Irving said. “Ownership and management, they’re going to feel what’s best for our future and I’m fully supportive of (them). We’ll see what happens.”
Irving was traded to Boston last August and averaged 24.4 points and 5.1 assists over 60 games in his first season with the Celtics.
The five-time All-Star missed the last 15 games of the regular season and the entirety of the playoffs after undergoing left knee surgery.
“To kind of have something like that unexpected, it was hurtful, because just a lot of what I wanted to accomplish with our guys and individually as one of the leaders of the team,” Irving said.
Irving also had a separate surgery in May to repair a deviated septum, a procedure that kept him away from the sidelines for Game 7 of the Celtics’ Eastern Conference Finals series against James and the Cavaliers.
“Obviously, it wasn’t going to feel the same (not being there), but I was just so proud of our guys and what they did,” Irving said. “They passed a lot of expectations, and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Cleveland beat Boston 87-79 in Game 7 to send James to his eighth consecutive Finals series. The Cavaliers were swept by the Golden State Warriors, dropping James’ personal Finals record to 3-6.
The Celtics expect Irving to be completely recovered by the start of training camp in the fall.
“I’m feeling good,” Irving said. “It was going to be a process coming back, just making sure I’m healthy enough for September. Just trying not to push it too hard.”